Ballot Question for the
April 9, 2024 Needham Election

Watch our short program on the ballot question. The League of Women Voters of Needham hosted “Focus on the 2024 Needham Ballot Question” on Tuesday, March 19. The program featured Select Board Chair Marianne Cooley and Fire Chief Tom Conroy. After presentation by the speakers, League President Carol Patey posed questions, followed by questions from the Zoom attendees and through email.

What is the Ballot Question?

Shall the Town of Needham revoke its acceptance of Chapter 31 of the General Laws relative to the Fire Department, and thereby remove the Fire Department from Civil Service? YES or NO

A yes vote would remove the members of the Fire Department from civil service and provide local control over the recruitment and promotion of personnel.

A no vote would result in no change to the civil service status of the Fire Department and the recruitment and promotion of personnel would remain under state regulation and control.

Why This Ballot Question?

The Town and the Fire Union reached an agreement on a plan to remove the Town from the civil service hiring system. Because the Town of Needham elected to participate in the civil service program by way of the vote of the residents at the ballot, the Town may exit the civil service system in the same way.

Fair and Concise Summary

The members of the Fire Department were placed within the Massachusetts civil service system when the Town voted at the March 5, 1956 Annual Town Election to accept the provisions of Chapter 31 of the General Laws with reference to permanent members of the fire force of the Town of Needham so that said members shall be subject to the provisions of Chapter 31 of the General Laws (Civil Service) and the rules established thereunder.

The Town and the Needham Fire Union recently reached agreement to remove the Fire Department from civil service, to allow for the use of a locally created recruitment system, to select candidates based on criteria in addition to exam scores, and to expand the pool of qualified candidates available for hiring. Upon removal from civil service, a human resources policy will govern hiring of entry level firefighters, and the collective bargaining agreement established a replacement promotional process.

The May 8, 2023 Special Town Meeting voted to support the removal of the Fire Department from the civil service system. Massachusetts General Laws c. 4, ยง4B states that a town may revoke its acceptance of a law in the same manner that the law was originally accepted. Accordingly, withdrawing the Fire Department from civil service requires approval of the voters at the ballot. The Town voted to remove the Police Department from civil service at the April 11, 2023 election.

See complete information on the Town website.